22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at hisnatural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.
I love this passage. It has been used in many instances in my life over the past few years and the saying that has stuck with me the most is, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Simply walking around quoting scripture and talking about God is much different than backing it up with action. Who would you rather follow, one who just talks or one who just does? Ever hear “actions speak louder than words” or “a picture is worth a thousand words”? Does the world judge us by what we say or by what we do? Sometimes it’s a combination. If what we are saying we believe in and what we are doing does not match up, we need to take a step back and re-evaluate what we are claiming and what we are doing.
The metaphor used here about looking into a mirror and forgetting what you saw the minute you turn away. It makes one wonder, “well, why did you look in the first place if you weren’t intent on remembering what you saw?” The same holds true with our study of God’s Word. What’s the point of reading it if we are not going to remember it and live it out? Simply stating that you read the bible every day is not going to make you a better person or a follower of Christ. Rather, it makes you look like a hypocrite, sometimes it will even make you feel like a hypocrite. This is part of the reason why I started this study. I claimed to be a follower of Christ but was neglecting to read His Word. Now, I could have very easily decided just to not claim to be a believer and my life would be much simpler, wouldn’t it? I could just fade into the background…but God is calling us to a much higher level of accountability.
In verse 25 James talks about “the perfect law”. It’s important to note he didn’t reference The Law (aka, the Mosaic Law/ Ten Commandments that was passed down to Israel in their beginning). Here, James is talking about the law of the Spirit, whom Paul explains in Romans 8, “2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” This is the law of freedom through Christ, the one that calls us to “love unconditionally the Lord your God with all your heart mind and soul and to love your neighbor as yourself.” James finishes his sentence by stating what happens when we follow this law intently, this man will be blessed in what he does.
It must be understood that this does not “save” us, rather it puts us in a place of blessing. As I’ve discussed before, God promises us blessings if we follow His Will, and this is exactly what James is referencing. We aren’t saved by actions, but we are blessed (or cursed) because of them. It’s not about what God can or cannot do, rather what He has said He will or will not do. We see this lived out over thousands of years in the Old Testament. God tells man what He would like done, what will happen if it isn’t done and what will happen if it is, then we see the action and the consequence. Too often we rebuke God for cursing us or allowing things to happen to us and don’t recognize that it is merely the consequence of our actions.
Are you putting yourself in a place of blessing? What blessings do you feel you deserve that you are not getting? Are you being a doer of the word to worship God, or just to receive the blessing?